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Posts Tagged ‘pct-l’

Hop-a-long and I raced down the 3500 ft drop to the Post Office to get our packages before it closed at 1pm.  Whoever we camped near was still asleep when we left.

Plugging along, as soon as the descent began, we saws the fire on the other side of the canyon sending up an enormous amount of smoke and covering quite a large area.  We walked down seemingly straight toward it.  It switchbacked downward for the most part, but definitely still made my knees hurt a bit, so I had to go a bit slower.

I found Hop-a-long at the Belden Town “Resort” which pretty much consisted of the entire town minus the “Post Office/Museum” and a small convenience store/RV park about 2 miles down the road.  She had found Trooper, Cowboy, and Tracks eating breakfast, so we joined them and before long Snow Turtle, Aggassi, Swanson, Bird, and Freebird joined us.

Immediately, the forest service began telling us our options.  Their first spiel went something like this: the PCT is closed between Hwy 70 (Belden) and Hwy 36 (Chester) due to the Chips Fire.  All the side trails in the vicinity connecting the two highways are also closed.  The fire started small but has grown.  It was human caused and is only 10% contained.  Option 1: walk Caribou Rd up to the end and take a bike path to Hwy 89 and walk/hitch to Hwy 36, then walk/hitch to the trail crossing.  Option 2: walk/hitch Hwy 70 16 miles to Hwy 89 for 36 miles, then walk/hitch 5 miles to the trail.

We sorted through food, blogged, snagged a shower from Funk and Troopers cabin, and drank some beer while we mulled over our two options.  In the process of drinking beer on the porch, the forest service came back over in a panic mode and told us not to hike up Caribou road because the fire had spread that way and they were going to evacuate all the campgrounds and RV park.

If we had to hitch it, we definitely weren’t going anywhere that evening to get stuck on one of those sides of the roads.

That night, we all crammed into one cabin: Funk, Trooper, Cowboy, Shep Dog, Chef, Pocahontas, Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, and I.  In the morning, the fire had spread even more and had dumped ashes all over the deck.

Dead and I began hitching right outside of Belden Town and got a ride down to the corner store from the Post Office lady, but then were stuck there for five hours.

During that five hours, pretty much only forest service people passed who can’t pick anyone up in a government vehicle.  We got talked to by several of them ascertaining that we weren’t trying to walk through, and then by the cops.  One of the cops pulled the dick cop move of questioning us about who all was ahead of us in that cop tone with his arms crossed and his sunglasses on in the shade.

“So you don’t know who was a day or two ahead of you?” He asked for a last time.

“No, I caught everyone I knew directly ahead of me in Belden,” I replied.

“You didn’t see any non thru hikers? Like around midnight?” He kept at it.

“No…its not uncommon to night hike though.”

Grunts, “you know you have to hitch around to Chester?”

“Yeah, but we’ve been standing here for 4 hours…wanna give us a ride at least to the next road?” I asked annoyed that by talking to us cars wouldn’t even think of pulling over.

“We have to go to Belden Town. Sure you didn’t see anyone?”

I’m sorry, I thought cops were supposed to help people.  My bad.  All those taxpayer dollars.  I may not be a resident of California, but I’ve sure spent enough money in your broke ass state in the last three months for a 16 mile ride.

Eventually, one of the cooks at Belden Town took pity on us since he had some time before work, turned around and picked Dead Animal and me up and subsequently Cowboy and Shep Dog down the road since they gave up on hitching and began walking.  Hwy 70 was a very dangerous road to walk on: curvy, no shoulder, and high speeds.

“If I’m late, I’ll just tell him I drove hikers to the next road. You guys give us a lot of business, they won’t care,” he said.

He dropped us off at the “Y” of Hwy 70 and Hwy 89 where a bus was supposed to make a non route stop there on the way to Chester if hikers were there.  We had 20 minutes to spare, so we threw our thumbs out in case anyone would take us sooner when Joe picked us up in his truck.  A former Navy guy who now fixed appliances kindly drove us all the way to a Chinese restaurant in Chester.

There, we found Heehaw, Kristo, and Swiss Army who were the last ones to make it through the walking detour.  I inhaled two lunch specials.

As Dead and I wandered around, a blue truck came up and rolled down the window, “Do you guys need a ride anywhere?  We’re looking for hikers to help.”

“We need to charge our phones, but we’ll be done in an hour,” Dead said.

“Ok, we’ll be back here for you then!” She said.

And they were, Ron and Karen came back and drove us to the trail where PipersMom had left trail magic coolers.

We got back and hiked to the first water.  All the same suspects were there listening to Kristo and Heehaw play guitars except Hop-a-long, Funk, and Trooper who got later rides and didn’t make it that far that night.  Overall, it worked out, but mostly sucked because the half-way point was burning.

On the pct-l, reports have been coming in over the Chip’s Fire explosion and saying it’s going nuts, there are more evacuations and Hwy 70 will probably soon close.

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Sorry for not posting, we took out eight days of food and I had no internet for that long.  Mt. Whitney pictures are at the bottom which wouldn’t upload before as well.  Thanks for your patience!

We resupplied by taking a side trail east over Kearsarge Pass down into the Onion Valley to a road which would take us several thousand feet down to the small town of Independence, CA.  Taking the Bullfrog Lake trail up to the pass, we caught amazing views of the Penacles and beautifully blue alpine lakes that reflected the image of the mountains in them.  The pass stood at 11,780 feet; although it wasn’t on the PCT, we took it as a bonus pass and got naked for it anyway just to keep up ESPN.  It was definitely the longest I’ve ever hiked to a resupply…usually I hit a road and stick out my thumb, conveniently getting a ride to food and beer.  Nope.  Nine miles to a road.  Then we had to depend on day walkers, all of which were inconveniently staying at the campground there and enjoying the outdoors, not Subway, beer, cheap motels, and hot tubs.

Eventually, we did get a ride down in a beat-up white pickup with a guy who charged $5 a head and had taken up a load of thru-hikers including Neon, Onna Move, Bolt, Ornie, Waffles, Cheesecake, and Snowflake.  Astro, Magellan, Dead Animal and I jumped in and put our heads down every time he took a turn fast and yelled at us to hold onto our hats while we bounced in the bed of the truck.

We got dropped off at the Chevron gas station and Subway where I had the amazing resupply guru, my mother, send me a package of seven days of food.  I got it after I wolfed down a foot long veggie sub in about five minutes or less, then all of us jumped on the regional bus up to Bishop, a bigger town 40 miles north.  Inspector Gadget and Hop-a-long had gotten ahead of us to catch the post office hours for his laptop bounce box and gotten Gadget’s dad’s Holiday Inn points for a room in Bishop.

A nice zero was in order where we relaxed, played in the pool, checked out Bishop’s three outfitters, and ate copious amounts of food.  The next day, we got back to the Chevron via the local mid-day bus and began hitching back up to Onion Valley.  We picked up House and Lunchbox, so we split up to try for rides.  Eventually, Hop-a-long, Inspector Gadget, House, and Lunchbox got a squeezed ride up while Dead Animal and I waited.  Before long a car pulled up and screeched to a stop.  Bounce Box, Major Upchuck, and the Indiana Boys jumped out with one of their girlfriends who was going to hike for a while.  Bounce and Upchuck were actually heading back to Lone Pine where they got off, so they got back in the car while a nice woman named Debbie drove the five of us left up to the Onion Valley trailhead.

Hop-a-long had left her poles in a rides car going down.  The trail is good though because the ride gave them to a hiker at the Chevron who posted on the PCT-l (PCT email list) that they left them with the Onion Valley Campground Host.  However, when we got there, the host had lent them out to a family with kids two and a half miles up the trail.  We began walking and we found the kids who returned her poles one at a time.

That evening, Hop-a-long, Dead Animal, Inspector Gadget, Lunchbox, House, and I camped near a lake about halfway up to Kearsarge pass.  We hit the pass in the morning for a second time and took the pass trail back to the PCT where we immediately climbed over Glen Pass.

We had naked time on top to continue ESPN, then hiked down to Rae Lakes where we went swimming in the alpine lake and got eaten by mosquitos.  The downhill continued to right before mile 800 where we camped in the last bear box campsite we saw with lots of JMTers.

The PCT and the JMT (John Muir Trail) are the same for a large chunk of the Sierras and most of the JMTers hike sobo to finish on Mt. Whitney with their extremely large packs.

The next day was trying for me.  Pinchot Pass kicked my ass, the seven days of food weighed me down, and I cursed the bear canister which was trying to rub blisters on my back.  The pass just climbed and climbed and climbed on obnoxiously large rock steps and for most of it, I kept thinking I was farther than I was, probably because we tried to hike faster to out-hike the mosquitos, then running out of breath and expending energy killing them as they tried to suck our blood.

We took a decent break on top, getting naked to spite the evil pass that took incredibly too long to climb, then we descended slowly.  I was so beat by the bottom, Dead Animal and I camped there with the mosquitos while Hop-a-long and Inspector went on another 40 minutes or so.

In the morning, Dead Animal realized that some creature had eaten large holes out of his new socks that he had only worn once.  The probable suspects were either a mouse or a chipmunk.

We found Inspector Gadget and Hop-a-long not too far up the next morning and they talked about frost.  We all got to the top of Mather Pass, did the usual naked ritual, and began a hideous decent which actually hurt my knees a bit for the first time this trip.  Following a waterfall down, switch back after rocky switch back, we passed lots of JMTers and their large packs going up.  There were beautiful look out points where we could see deep into the valley that we would plunge down into, almost down to 8,000 ft.

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